April 30, 2014
MADISON - With low water temperatures statewide and many northern Wisconsin waters still thawing, boating safety officials are encouraging anglers to take special precautions to make sure they stay safe on their early season fishing trips, recreation safety officials say.
Water temperatures in southern Wisconsin lakes were reported in the 40- and 50-degree ranges and anglers were still ice fishing in the Woodruff area the last weekend in April.
Roy Zellmer, conservation warden and boating safety administrator with the Department of Natural Resources, says that such conditions mean that anglers who fall into the water or have their boat flip will have less time to get to safety because hypothermia sets in quickly.
Hypothermia can occur when the body's temperature drops below 95 degrees. "The loss of body heat results in loss of dexterity, loss of consciousness and eventually loss of life," Zellmer says. "Water conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster than air."
Zellmer encourages anglers to check in with local bait shops to find out what water temperature and ice conditions are and to follow these boating safety tips.
If someone is not able to get back in a boat, they should limit body movement, and not swim unless they can reach a nearby boat or floating object. Swimming lowers body temperature and even good swimmers can drown in cold water, he says.
Instead, Zellmer says people should "assume the heat-escape-lessening-position" (H.E.L.P.). Begin by crossing your ankles, then cross your arms over your chest, draw your knees to your chest, lean back and try to relax.
"We would like to make 2014 the safest boating season ever. We can do it if everyone follows safe boating practices," Zellmer says.
For more information search the DNR website for "boat safety."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Roy Zellmer, 608-212-5385; Joanne Haas, public affairs manager, Bureau of Law Enforcement, 608-209-8147